By Azu Akanwa
The people of Niger Delta have presented an award to the first civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, to mark his 80th birthday.
Presenting the award at the Lagos residence of the former governor, leader of the Niger Delta team and Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group, Comrade Joseph Evah, said the former governor deserved the honour because of his immense contribution to education of Niger Delta people.
â€œYour free education at all levels between 1979 and 1983 in Lagos State has produced over 10, 000 Niger Delta professionals today and it is the highest single effort by any individual from within and outside the Niger Delta,â€ Evah said.
He commended Jakandeâ€™s free education programme, which, he said, was without bias, adding that â€œyoung men and women are walking tall today in every area of life because you came to mankindâ€™s rescue at the right time to give light to the darkness in Niger Delta.â€
The Niger Delta activist expressed concern that the region is not moving forward because â€œall the governors since 1999 till date have deliberately refused to implement free education at all levels with free text books, despite the fact that they are all from poor homes and experienced suffering from childhoodâ€.
He sated that present Niger Delta political leaders need the guardian of people like Jakande to impact positively on the lives of the people. â€œOur governors, ministers and lawmakers are problems to us. Our politicians and the oil companies are the major enemies of the region and the region is receiving all manner of insults today because our region produces the highest number of cowards in government.â€
The Ijaw leader maintained that Jakande is the â€œlast man standing in the engine room of Awolowo political machine for human and physical developmentâ€.
Responding, Alhaji Jakande said he provided free education during his tenure as governor of Lagos state because that was the best way to help humanity move forward and thanked the Niger Deltans for the honour bestowed on him.